Saturday, April 16, 2011

Middle Eastern Baklava

Delicious Baklava: Easier than it looks!
Several years ago, my girlfriend Maddy Weisman of Elmira, Noo Yawk, introduced me to a great little restaurant just off Times Square called The Dervish. I think of it - and Maddy - each time I make Baklava, a decadent dessert with mid-eastern origins. The water in the glaze cuts down the sweetness without scrimping on taste. A bonus: It’s very easy to make! This is my very favorite Baklava recipe! 

Middle Eastern Baklava:
40 sheets of phyllo pastry, 12x16 in. (30x40 cm)
½ c. melted butter
1 c. light brown sugar, packed
¼ c. melted butter
3 c. finely chopped toasted walnuts (see Note)
1 tsp. cinnamon
To Prepare the Syrup:
1 c. liquid honey
½ c. sugar
1 c. water
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Layer two sheets of phyllo pastry in a greased 13x9x2-in. (3 L or 12-cup) baking pan. Press pastry into the pan, folding the excess flat against the bottom. Dab the surface of the pastry lightly with melted butter. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, ¼ c. melted butter, toasted walnuts, and cinnamon. Sprinkle approximately 3 tbsp. of this mixture evenly over the surface of the buttered phyllo pastry. Continue layering two sheets of phyllo, dabbing with melted butter and sprinkling with the nut mixture until a total of 19 layers have been formed. Top with final layer and trim pastry overhang.

Dab top layer with melted butter and score in a diamond design with a sharp knife (This sounds like a no-brainer, but isn’t: With tip of sharp knife, slice phyllo diagonally from one corner to opposite corner; make parallel cuts at a right angle to the pan 1-inch apart to edge to form diamond shapes). Bake at 375 deg. F. for 25-to-30 min., until puffy and golden. Meanwhile (back at the ranch), make the syrup by combining the honey, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan, boiling 3 min. When the Baklava emerges from the oven, pour syrup over hot pastry. Cool to room temperature. Serve with whipped cream on the side.

Note: See How to Toast Nuts in Index.

Combine finely chopped walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, butter

Dab melted butter over first two layers of pastry

Sprinkle with 3 tbsp. of crumb mix; repeat layering

Dab top layer with butter and trim away pastry overhang

Slice diagonally through layers of pastry and filling

Slice at a right angle to the pan to form diamond design

Prepare honey-lemon juice solution 

Boil vigorously for 3 min.
Pour hot syrup over; topping will glaze Baklava

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